How do we Tibetans create our own sense of Place? Why should it matter?

HH Karmapa performing Cham HH Karmapa performing Cham


How do Tibetans construct their own space and place, and what does cham have anything to do with this? While there are many socio-cultural ways in which Tibetans construct their own place, I focus my discussion on how Tibetans construct their own spaces through the masculine ritual practice of cham. Masculine because cham is performed by a cast of Tibetan Buddhist monks—and more recently by some nuns, but for the purposes of this discussion, I’ll be focusing on the men who have historically dominated this ritual. Among the many meanings accorded to cham, the ritual is a dance that reenacts the heroic story of Padmasambava (Guru Rinpoche) in Tibet, the popular Indian tantric teacher who came to Tibet, tamed all the deities of the Tibetan landscape and helped spread Buddhism across the Tibetan plateau. In addition to being a historic rendition of Padmasambava, cham…

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